Nutritional Needs Across All Life Stages

As people change and grow, so do their nutritional needs. We can help create custom
products that lead to better health.

Life stages

Our continued investment in understanding the changing landscape of health and nutrition means Kerry is well placed to help our customers stay ahead of trends driven by new consumer needs and changing global demographics.

Our global team can advise you on consumer life stages and associated need states. Here, we provide insights into consumers' behaviours, wants, nutritional needs and taste preferences throughout every life stage.


Between 50% and 90% of pregnant women report both food cravings and food aversions.

Pregnancy sickness is a universal phenomenon, affecting 70% to 85% of all pregnant women. Enabling good maternal health during pregnancy and lactation is essential for the optimum physical and cognitive development of the child. And so quality nutrition provides the building blocks for the infant's brain development and organ growth.

An increasing weight of evidence suggests that the quality and quantity of early life nutrition can affect health in adulthood.

Concerned about their baby's health, many women change long established dietary patterns to give their baby the best possible nutritional start.

Pregnancy and lactation increases the need for vitamins and minerals such as protein, fat, namely LCPUFAs, calcium, vitamin D, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron and zinc.

We also know that often, despite best efforts, there can be a mismatch between dietary intake and actual needs. This can be because of other factors that arise during pregnancy, such as queasiness, heartburn, cravings, food aversions and changes in taste perception.

Infants and toddlers

Nutrition is critical in the first 12 months of a baby's life, when the most rapid growth and development of every person's lifetime is taking place.

In the first four to six months, breast milk is best as it supplies all necessary nutrients in the right proportions. Breast milk also protects against allergies, infections and certain diseases such as diabetes.

Growth slows in the second six months, which is also the best time to gradually wean babies onto a diet that includes a combination of human milk and solid foods. Nutrients such as iron and zinc are particularly important at this stage.

Growth speeds up again at the toddler stage, when toddlers grow faster in height than children of four or five years of age. So the right nutrition is just as vital for continued growth and development, including physical as well as social, cognitive and emotional.

Children and adolescents

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.

Children and adolescent nutritional requirements and taste preferences vary greatly by age. We also know the diets of children and adolescents are driven by both themselves and their parents.

More importantly, these years are a crucial marker and intervention point for childhood obesity, an epidemic that is a serious public health problem with substantial long-term economic and social costs.

This is compounded by the fact that many children like indulgent, high-fat, high-sugar foods. And that the more children indulge in foods rich in sugar and fat, the more they crave it – with studies showing a disturbance in taste thresholds, specifically sweet tastes.

Adolescents are more likely to look for novelty and variation in their diet and are also beginning to become more concerned about nutrition.

Early adulthood

Young adults are less likely to have three set meals a day, and so require snacks to perform a broader, more nutritive function.

We know the main concern is achieving balanced nutrition while taking into account calorie control and weight maintenance. Most young adults are generally happy with their weight but pay close attention to the quantity of food they eat while also being conscious of fitness.

We know young, single people are more likely to eat out more often and are the most experimental with their food and beverage choices.

They seek out fresh products that are easily prepared but still require some cooking or assembly, so are drawn to meal kits and ingredient short cuts.

Households with young families are looking for wholesome goodness, and stealth health can often come into play. Moms tend to choose neutral or mainstream flavours that all the family can enjoy.

In terms of diet and health, early adulthood is a time when chronic diseases begin to be expressed and so is a critical time for implementing preventive diet and lifestyle measures which can reduce health risks.


Maximising the taste experience for this consumer group is key: between the ages of 40 and 50, the number of taste buds begin to decrease.

Nutrition and lifestyle are two key forces behind successful healthy ageing. So our key focus on achieving and maintaining good health is helping consumers to make good lifestyle choices that can help to prevent chronic disease.

Ageing well can be greatly enhanced by ensuring the diet contains a balance of macro and micro nutrients.

We know the healthy ageing consumer generally leads a time-pressured lifestyle and is more attentive to their health needs and that of their family.

With more than 90% paying attention to how much they eat, nutrition awareness is high. They want all meals to have good nutrition and be easy to prepare.

We also know older families with busier lifestyles are less likely to have sit-down meals and will eat at different times of the day. 'Empty nesters' often have more time and money to spend on food and drink and are less likely to compromise on their choices.


As we age, our appetite decreases in response to reduced energy requirements. This can however increase the risk of malnutrition.

Around the world, people are living longer and also want to live better. Yet 40% of seniors say they can’t find food and beverages that meet special nutritional diets, offer smaller portion sizes or that are appropriately nutritionally labelled.

As life expectancy increases, causing a demographic shift to older populations globally, it's predicted that by 2050, there will be two billion people over 60 years – around 22% of the world's population.

Ageing nutrition care goes beyond disease management to include a broader and stronger focus on healthy and active lifestyles and disease prevention.

Seniors are conscious of weight with 93% paying a lot of attention to what they eat. Also, while not eating out as much as younger adults, senior consumers have more time to cook and enjoy spending time with family and friends.

Ageing nutrition care goes beyond disease management to include a broader and stronger focus on healthy and active lifestyles and disease prevention. 

Read more on nutritional need states for seniors